The Five of Swords depicts a man who seems to be gathering up swords. He holds three in his hand, another two swords lay strewn on the ground. In the background are two figures, both with their backs turned to the man. The clouds in the sky are grey and foreboding.
A menacing card on first glance, the Five of Swords places the querent in either of two positions – as the man gathering the swords or one of the figures in the background.
The man gathering the swords seems to be almost sneering at the other figures in the background. It is possible that a battle has taken place and he is victorious. His path is now clear, he has disarmed his enemies and victory is his. Interestingly, the battle and victory has not resulted in physical death for his opponents. They walk away suggesting the victory has been more psychological than physical. Swords of course represent the intellect and so the depiction in the card is in keeping with this theme.
In this scenario, the card suggests victory but it is a victory tinged with meanness and a cold heart. We have won our battle but others are hurt by our actions. We should take stock and reflect on whether we really want to be the cruel, sneering victor depicted in the card. Is our victory worth it?
The card could also cast the querent as one of the figures in the background. We have lost our battle. We have been disarmed. The victor sneers at our loss, uncaring of our situation. We should be aware at this time that even though our loss may be significant and cruel, it is not the final chapter in the suit. We may have suffered a defeat but more importantly, we are still standing. It is a psychological defeat and one that we must overcome.
Fives are representative of change and destruction. The Five of Swords heralds significant change in the mental realm. Our perceptions may be upturned, our expectations or order thrown into disarray. Fives suggest that we may be looking down a new path, one that we did not expect and which may have been forced upon us.
Reversed: The Five of Swords reversed amplifies the upright meaning of the card. This is a time of challenge and change, where we will suffer turmoil in our lives. We should be careful we are not the cruel victor and equally, we should be aware that in our darkest hour, time moves on. Battles are won and lost, that is life and nobody wins them all. Change, though sometimes unwanted, is lifes way of teaching us lessons.